52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #31 – Jane Blakeney Welch

My 3rd great-grandmother was Jane Welch nee Blakeney. She was born about 1788 to John and Nancy Blakeney nee May, probably in Cheraws District, South Carolina in the area that eventually became Chesterfield County.

She married Elisha “Eli” Welch sometime around 1810; although no marriage record has been found, they likely married in Chesterfield County. The 1820 census for Chesterfield County, South Carolina had tick marks for two males under 10 years of age and two females under 10 years of age. By 1830, Eli was enumerated in Anson County, North Carolina, which was just across the state line from Chesterfield County. In addition to Eli and Jane, the tick marks reflected the two males but only one of the females from the 1820 census and added three more males under 5 years, two between 5 and 9, and two females between 5 and 9.

Eli and Jane moved to Fayette County, Alabama sometime before 1840 because that’s where they were enumerated for that census. The first and only census record that names Jane was the 1850 census record. Their daughter, Elizabeth Welch Threet was enumerated next to them.1850 censusThe household make up appears to be Eli and Jane plus their daughter, Sarah, and two sons, Hugh and Robert; Robert was my 2nd great-grandfather. In addition, James and Lewis were probably grandsons; unfortunately, censuses didn’t identify relationships until the 1880 census.

Neither Eli nor Jane were enumerated for the 1860 census. We found probate files for Jane Welch, which indicated she was widowed at the time of her death. The administration documents for her probate were filed June 6, 1856. A list of creditors included bills for home visits and medication that were provided to her almost daily from March 17 until April 14, 1856. This would indicate Jane died sometime between April 14, her last medical visit, and June 6, 1856 when probate was filed.

Eli and Jane owned two hundred acres of land so it is likely they were both buried on their land, but no cemeteries or burial records have as yet been discovered.

______________________

This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

Advertisements

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks # 21 – Elisha “Eli” Welch

My paternal grandmother’s father’s great-grandfather [3rd great-grandfather] was Elisha “Eli” Welch/Welsh. The earliest records spell the name as Welsh while the more recent records stabilized with the Welch spelling. I don’t know a lot more about him than his name and what few details can be gleaned from a few early census records.

Research and historical family stories indicate he married Jane Blakeney sometime around 1808 probably in Chesterfield County, South Carolina or across the North Carolina border in Anson County, which was the county seat often used by the residents who lived near the state line.

The only census record in which he was listed that contained any details other than his name and the number of people in the household, tallied by gender, was the Fayette County, Alabama 1850 census.1850What I learned from this census record is he was born about 1788 in South Carolina, was a farmer with property valued at $50 and could not read or write. Although relationships were not identified, it is assumed Jane was his wife and there were three probable children living in the household [Sarah, 25; Hugh, 23; and Robert, 21]. The birth location of those probable children in South Carolina provides an indication that Eli was still living in South Carolina in 1829. The 7-year-old and 2-year-old children were likely grandchildren. Alford Blackney [Blakeney], though as yet unidentified, was likely a nephew to Jane.

The 1820 census for Chesterfield County, South Carolina lists the Eli Welch household as containing one male and one female between 26 and 44, one male between 10 and 15, 2 males under 10 and 2 females under 10. Based on Eli’s age in the 1850 census, he would have been approximately 32 in the 1820 census. Based on Eli’s age, the older young male must have been closer to 10 than to 15. If that male were Eli’s child, that would indicate a marriage date of between 1805 and 1810. Although Eli and Jane were married prior to the 1810 census, I have not yet found a listing for him; as a young couple they could have been enumerated within the household of another family.

The 1830 census for Anson, North Carolina [which is just across the border from Chesterfield County, South Carolina] lists the Eli Welch household with 7 sons under 15 [meaning the older son from the 1820 census was not enumerated] and 3 daughters under 15, plus his wife, for a total of 10 or 11 children.

The 1830 and 1840 census records, which record ages within a decade, would indicate Eli was born in the decade from 1790 to 1800 rather than 1780 to 1790. The consistency of those age brackets over two census periods would suggest he was probably born after the census effective date in 1790 rather than 1788 as reflected in the 1850 census.

By the 1840 census, the Eli Welch household was enumerated in Fayette County, Alabama and the once growing family was beginning to reduce in size as the older children began to establish their own households – there were 3 sons between the ages of 15 and 20 and 1 daughter between 10 and 14, plus Eli and Jane.

If Eli left a will it was not available in Fayette County records, but by the time Jane died about 1856 probate files indicated she was widowed and their property was sold and proceeds passed to heirs. That probate file and the 1850 census would indicate Eli died between November 1850 and sometime in 1856. No death or burial records have been discovered thus far.

 

______________________

This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #17 – James Farquhar

My great-great-great-grandfather was James Farquhar (1813/14-1892). I have not yet seen any specific date records of either his birth or death. His parents married in February 1813 in Person County, North Carolina and census records indicate his birth sometime between 1813 and 1814 in North Carolina, although his tombstone lists his birth as 1820.

A marriage index provides evidence of a marriage between James and Barsheba McGuire on August 22, 1833 in Tuscaloosa County [the 1833 marriage date does not go well with an 1820 birth date for James – he would have only been 13 at that time; however, it does fit with subsequent census records]. There is an 1840 census for James Farquhar in Tuscaloosa County that showed them still in Tuscaloosa County. The tic-mark census was for a male and female between the ages of 20-29 (James and Basheba), one son under 5 (Andrew), one daughter under 5 (Mary “Polly”) and one daughter between 5 and 9 (Sarah – my great-great-grandmother).

By the 1850 census James and Basheba and their growing family had moved to Fayette County. In addition to James and Basheba and Sarah, Polly and Andrew, they also had Martha, James, Elizabeth and “Sis” or America.1850From September 1839 through June 1858, James Farquhar and/or his father purchased land in Tuscaloosa and Fayette Counties; James the son had married in Tuscaloosa County in 1833 so it is feasible he was ready to purchase land by 1839; however, his father of the same name was still living until 1859. A spreadsheet pulled from the Bureau of Land Records shows those purchases: spreadsheetThe Tuscaloosa land is some distance away (between Tuscaloosa and the Fayette County line) but the remaining land is all contiguous. Someone has a website with plat maps of some of the Sections in Fayette County and the one showing James Farquhar’s land, as well as his son-in-law (and my great-great-grandfather) Robert Welch’s, is available [Robert’s land is top left and James’ land is center/left]. Land Map with Welch, Farquhar and Maddox landsBetween 1850 and 1860, three more children were added to the family: Lavina in 1851; John Thomas in 1853; and Amanda in 1855. One more child, Cornelia Helen, was born in 1860 but not enumerated until the 1870 census. The 1860 census listed James as a farmer with property valued at $1,200 and personal property also valued at $1,200.

The Civil War began in 1861 and James’ family was deeply wounded by the war. He had three sons and two of them were old enough to fight for the Confederacy and both of them died. Additionally, his daughter Martha had married William David Caraway who also enlisted and died. His son-in-law, Robert Welch, had died in 1861 prior to the War. The War had taken such a huge toll on the male population of the south and Alabama did a state-wide census in 1866 that was clearly needed because the Federal census taken in 1860 would not have been at all accurate.

The 1870 census gives a small indication of the economic impact on the area – where James’ property values were $1,200 land and $1,200 personal in 1860, in 1870 his property values were $700 land and $500 personal.

James’ wife, Basheba, died in 1882. He married again in 1886 to the widow Nancy Tierce Falls. He died six years later in 1892 and was buried at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery, on land he had apparently donated to the church for the purpose of providing a burial grounds. He was buried near his wife, Basheba, his parents and a number of his children and grandchildren.

______________________

This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

52 Ancestors #11 – Sarah A. Farquhar

Finding maiden names of female ancestors is oftentimes a challenge and for my great-great-grandmother, Sarah A. Farquhar, that was definitely true.

To begin with, all I had to go on was the name of my paternal grandmother’s father, William Thomas Welch, who was born in January 1860. I had only been able to find him in censuses after he married in 1879. All searches prior to that netted nothing definitive and only one I thought was possible: Wm T. Welch, four months old. The parents of this Wm. T. Welch were Robert and Sarah Welch and he had three older siblings: Bashuba J. (10), James A. (8), and Mary E (4). Unfortunately, none of those people showed up in any census after the 1860 census except for William Thomas.1850 censusIn the 1850 census, Sarah was listed with the middle initial of ‘A.’, was 26 years old, born about 1834 in Alabama and could not read or write, as was the case for Robert. Due to the ages of the members of the household, it is assumed they are a husband, wife and four children; the 1850 through 1870 censuses did not record the relationships of people in a household. The ‘Do’ (stands for ditto) in the column beside Robert indicates he was a farmer and the numbers next to it list their monetary value at $600 property value and $500 personal property value.

Some states began maintaining birth, death and marriage records at an early time while others either started later or do not make them available outside of paying for an official copy of such records. Other states’ records suffered a huge toll when courthouses were burned during the Civil War. Alabama is one of those states affected by Civil War destruction; the Fayette County courthouse has been burned twice. No records of the marriage of Robert and Sarah Welch has been found; if it had been available, my search for Sarah’s maiden name would have been relatively simple.

With no census records showing up after that 1860 one, the probability was that Robert Welch had died between 1860 and 1870 with the Civil War a possible cause; however, I did not find Civil War records for him. I kept searching but found nothing additional for either Robert or Sarah Welch or any of the Welch children. I knew it was likely that Sarah had remarried but without finding a marriage record I didn’t have a surname to search for and Sarah is way too common a given name to search. To compound the problem, even the children didn’t show up, although Bashuba or some spelling variation should have been findable even if James, Mary and William or Thomas were also very common given names.

When Kay and I made a trip to Fayette County, Alabama in 2010, we found an estate file for a Robert Welch who had, in fact, died prior to December 1861; since it listed his wife as Sarah, and their four children: Jane (10), James Alexander (8), Mary Isabell (4) and William Thomas (2), I was pretty confident I had found that Robert Welch. The administrator for the estate was a James Farquhar. With the youngest child of the 1850 census, Wm T., now being identified in the estate papers as William Thomas, I was reasonably confident I had found the correct family for my great-grandfather. Yet that confidence level didn’t iinclude a maiden name for Sarah.

Then one day I was looking at the before and after census pages for an ancestor and saw an entry with the given name of Basheba. It was an 1880 census for Basheba Farquhar and her husband, James [I had forgotten the name of the above-mentioned administrator and this did not trigger any memory recall]. The name Basheba seemed too much of a coincidence to not follow the trail to see if there might be a connection. The first step was to see if I could find James and Basheba in the 1850 census, prior to Sarah’s marriage, and to learn if they might have had a daughter of appropriate age whose name was Sarah. I found their 1850 census and they did have a daughter named Sarah who was 17 in 1850 compared to Sarah Welch who was 26 in 1860.

I then found James and Basheba in the 1860 and 1870 censuses and in looking at the families surrounding the Farquhar family in the 1870 census, I noted the family next to them was James Jackson and his wife Sarah Jackson (35 or born about 1835) and their four children, named Jane Jackson (18), James Jackson (16), Isabel Jackson (12) and Thomas Jackson (10). There were my answers: Sarah had married James Jackson sometime between 1862 and 1870 and the census enumerator had used the Jackson surname for the whole family, which explained why I had been unable to find either my great-grandfather or any of his siblings [Bashuba was using her middle name of Jane now]. 1870 censusWith the Jackson surname, I was able to search for Sarah in 1880 and found her easily. This time Sarah was listed as 45 and once again was widowed [the tick mark just to the left of her occupation of ‘Keeping house.’ She was still listed as being unable to read or write, was again listed as being born in Alabama. Her father was born in North Carolina and her mother in Alabama. Living in the household with her was her daughter, Bell Jackson 22, and her son, James 27. The tick marks indicate Bell was single and James was widowed. She also had a grandchild  named William (5) living in the household. The listing of William directly below Bell might indicate he was her child. It would have been more logical if James had been the boy’s father to have listed William below James’ name.1880 censusI didn’t find a census record for Sarah in 1900, which might indicate she had died or that she had remarried. A marriage record didn’t immediately surface, nor did a death record or a burial record.

Then again, one day as I was looking at a 1910 census record and noted a Sanford surname [another ancestor – one connected to William Thomas’ wife] at the top of the page. I flipped back a page to see which family he belonged to and I saw he was living with Jahue and Isabel Maddox. I wondered about the relationship between the Sanford and the Maddox families and decided to search to see if Isabel might be a Sanford; additionally, I did have a missing Isabel Welch. When I found the 1900 census for Jahue and Isabel, Jahue’s mother-in-law was living with them; her name was Sara. This time the surname was Edmondson. 1900 censusFurther support to determine that Sara A. Edmondson was the same as Sarah A. Farquhar, Sarah Welch and Sarah Jackson and that Mary Isabella Welch was the same person as Bell Jackson, Isabell Maddox and Mary I. Maddox. This time I was able to find a marriage record for Sarah Jackson to David Edmonson that took place on April 8, 1884, and one for a J.A. Maddox and Mary T. Welch that took place November 12, 1882. In the 1800s, all documents were handwritten and T’s, I’s, and J’s look a great deal alike, which is why the marriage record was transcribed as Mary T. With those combined records, I am confident I have, once again, found a record that lets me know something of the name, age, and relationships of my great-great-grandmother. This record gives her birth as September 1832, her age as 67 and as widowed for the third time.

The 1900 census also adds a new piece of information – she was the mother of five children, four of whom were still living in June 1900. None of the previous records listed a fifth child. With the ages of her children listed in 1860 of 8, 6, 2 and 4 months [with those age relationships remaining consistent in each of the census records], it is probable that her child who had died was one born between 1855 and 1857 who should have filled that missing age spot of 4 at the time of the 1860 census. It would, of course, also be possible she had a child with James Jackson who only lived a short time.

I have not found any other records for Sarah after the 1900 census. She was only 67 in the 1900 census so it is possible another marriage and surname could be responsible for not finding her. It is also possible she died between 1900 and 1910. No marriage record for a Sarah Edmondson has surfaced and no death record in that name has yet been found.

Her parents, grandparents, first husband and several siblings are buried in the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery in Fayette County. This cemetery is located adjacent to her family homestead. She is likely buried there but no headstone is visible and no cemetery transcription has listed anyone with the name of Sarah.

I have no family stories, no pictures of her and no specific birth date, death date or burial location. All I know, in summary – my great-great-grandmother, Sarah A. Farquhar, was born in September 1832 to James and Basheba McGuire Farquhar, was married three times [Robert Welch, James Jackson and David Edmondson] and widowed three times. She had five children, four of whom lived to adulthood – Basheba Jane Welch Anderson, James Alexander Welch, Mary Isabella Welch Maddox and William Thomas Welch. She was a grandmother to 18  grandchildren.

_____________________

This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

52 Ancestors #8 – Mary Monroe Sanford Welch

Mary Monroe 'Mollie' Sanford Welch croppedMary Monroe Sanford Welch was my paternal grandmother’s mother [my great-grandmother]; she went by the nickname of Mollie. Mollie was born to Asa and Martha Ann Jean Sanford in Moore’s Bridge, Alabama on February 22, 1857; today is the 157th anniversary of her birth.

As is the case for all my ancestors, everything I know about Mollie has been learned through discovering records that detail events in her life. The 1860 census lists her as the fourth child of her parents with one older sister and two older brothers, as well as one younger brother. She apparently had another older brother who was not enumerated with the family; her father had been married before to Mollie’s mother’s sister who had died shortly after the birth of their son. 1860 censusAlthough not shown in this census clip, Mollie’s family lived near extended family members and her father, although a farmer, also participated in the greater family’s trade of being hatters – makers of hats.

The 1860 census indicates her father was born in Alabama, her mother in Tennessee, and all her siblings in Alabama, but the 1870 census listing does not show the same birth locations: her father and mother and first two siblings are listed as being born in Tennessee, Mollie and her older brother in Mississippi and the remaining children in Alabama. 1870 censusThe ability to read and write is mixed in the family, as evidenced by the tick marks in the right-hand columns, with Mollie, her father, and two of her siblings being unable to read and write, while her mother and two oldest siblings could read and write.

Mollie married William Thomas Welch on January 5, 1879 in Fayette County, Alabama in a ceremony performed by Robert Berry who was a Justice of the Peace. I have no idea how they met since Mollie’s parents remained in the rural countryside northeast of Tuscaloosa and Tom’s family lived in the western portions of Fayette County, a distance of 60 miles or so. The 1880 census shows Tom and Mollie living between her Uncle Rufus and her cousin, Sarah; perhaps Rufus and Sarah had already moved to Fayette County and in visiting them, Mollie and Tom had met.

Although the 1890 census does not exist, both the 1880 census and the 1900 census show that Tom and Mollie continued to live in Fayette County – all their children listed on census records were born in Alabama. During the years between 1879 and 1900, Tom and Mollie had nine children: Mellie Jane (1879), James William (1881), Nathan Asa (1883), Martha Ann (1886), Jessie Ellis (1888), Dena (1889), Lovie Bell (1893), Fenie Estelle “Essie” (1895) and Myrtie Mae (1899).

Sometime between the 1900 census and the 1910 census, Tom and Mollie moved their family to Itawamba County, Mississippi near the town of Fulton, a community about 80 miles northwest of Fayette, Alabama. Melly and James William both married in Fayette County between 1900 and 1904, while Dena married in Itawamba County in 1906, Nathan in 1907, Martha “Annie” in 1908 and Jessie after the 1910 census was taken. Those marriage locations help identify that the family moved to Mississippi between 1904 and 1906. The 1910 census is difficult to read but does show Mollie as the mother of nine children, all of whom were still living; Jessie Ellis, Lovie, Fenie Essie and Myrtie were still living at home.1910 census The 1920 census shows they had moved back to the Webster community of Fayette County in Alabama and, again, lists divergent locations for their births; this time, Mollie’s birth location is listed as Tennessee and Tom’s father’s location is listed as Mississippi rather than Alabama. 1920 censusBy 1930, Tom and Mollie had moved back to Itawamba County. As is way too often the case for census records, the details are mixed in accuracy. This time birth locations are accurate for all but Mollie’s father while Mollie’s middle initial is inaccurate and Tom and Mollie’s ages are reversed. Additionally, Tom and Mollie are both listed as being able to read and write [the yes in the column to the left of center where the birth locations are listed], which was not previously the case. I do not know if they actually learned to read and write during the 1920s or if the census enumerator recorded this detail in error.1930 censusMollie died on May 22, 1931, less than a year after the 1930 census. She is buried in Union Grove Cemetery in the community of Tilden in Itawamba County, Mississippi. When I wrote about my great-grandfather, her husband, I included photos of their double headstone and grave site; those can be reviewed here.

_____________________

This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

 

52 Ancestors #6 – Mellie Jane Welch Willis

My grandmother was Mellie Jane Welch. Unfortunately, I never knew her because she died two years before I was born; in fact, I don’t even remember seeing a photograph of her other than a casket photo until I began working with Kay on our family history; this was true of all my grandparents.

It is not easy to learn much about our female ancestors because, for the most part, records of them are either with them as children of their parents or as the wife of their husband. Keeping house, doing laundry, and raising children doesn’t leave much of a unique paper trail. In this, Mellie Jane was a typical female of her generation.

Mellie was the first of nine children of William Thomas Welch and Mary Monroe “Mollie” Sanford and was born in Fayette County, Alabama November 8, 1879. The 1880 census shows the family listed with the surname spelled as Welsh [her father’s sister’s death record also listed their father’s name as Robert Welsh]. This reveals something of the times: people either weren’t sure how to spell their own family names and/or the enumerators spelled it as they heard it and, as literacy improved, families seemed to settle on one spelling or another, including variant spellings within the same family.1880 WelchI clipped a larger portion of this census because it reveals something else about the time period – people tended to live near extended family. John Sanford above them was Mary’s uncle, brother to her father, and Sarah Gladden was her cousin and daughter of John Sanford. The census also indicated that Thomas and Mary could not read or write, although Sarah and John Gladden could and John Rufus and his wife, Emma, could. Additionally, Mellie was listed as Jane in this census; I do not know if she often went by the name of Jane or if this was an isolated instance.

Because the 1890 census was lost in a fire, the only other record we have of Mellie Jane with her parents and siblings is the 1900 census. This census confirms that William and Mary did not read or write but that they were providing education to their children: the columns reading ‘Yes’ for the children indicate they could read and write and they had attended school (5 months for all but James who had attended 8 months of school). Mellie who was 20 and presumably through with the education she would receive could also could read and write. She and her family lived on a farm they owned free of a mortgage [the O and F in the right columns]. In contrast to the times, this census reveals a positive aspect to her family of origin – her mother was listed as the mother of nine children, all of whom were still living. A large number of families in this time period had suffered the deaths of both children and/or parents.Welch 1900On a trip to Alabama, one of my second cousins let us scan a photo he had of several of the young people in Fayette County taken sometime around 1900. He had a copy of it because two of his wife’s grandmothers were included in it; however, it also included my grandmother, her sister Dena, and Rufus Willis (Dena’s future husband/brother to Mellie’s future husband). Mellie is second from the right on the first row; Dena is in the center of the first row; Rufus is far left on the second row.Mellie Welch

The next record we have for Mellie is a marriage index listing her marriage to my grandfather, Zedic Hamilton (Zed Hamp) Willis on November 15, 1900. Although Hamp’s father was a Baptist minister, they were married by his brother John’s father-in-law, William Franklin Gilpin, who was also a Baptist minister.1910 WillisThe 1910 census for Itawamba County, Mississippi provides evidence of some of the events in the lives of Mellie and Hamp. It also supports what I said about the frequency with which families suffered deaths of children, parents and/or siblings. The columns just left of the center confirm that Hamp and Mellie had been married nine years and Mellie was listed as being the mother of six children, five of whom were still living. My Aunt Madge provided a family group sheet that identified Hamp and Mellie’s first child as a daughter named Mary Eunice; she is the one missing from the 1910 census. We do not know when she was born, when she died, how long she lived or what caused her death. Their other five children were William Franklin (7), James Thomas [my father] (6), John Hall (4), Earnest (3) and Ruth (1 1/2). Johnnie was born in Mississippi in 1906; since my father was born in Fayette County, Alabama in 1904, that would indicate they moved from Alabama to Mississippi between 1904 and 1906. The far right column indicates they were renting their farm. Not shown on this clip but also enumerated on the same census page were  Mellie’s brother, James William, his wife, Pearlie, and their 3-year old daughter.Hamp & Mellie & baby

Because I never knew my grandmother and never even saw pictures of her prior to about 2000, I am very grateful to have discovered a few of them. One we have been unable to identify when and where it may have been taken. The confusing elements are the long dress, which would place the time period as early, her double chin but with dark hair indicating she is probably between perhaps 33 and 38. Her face in this photo is similar to one taken in the 1930s but her hair at that time had quite a bit of gray in it. Hamp and Mellie appear to be holding a female child of six months or so. The family group sheet provided by Aunt Madge indicated their last child was a daughter named Rachel who was born about 1914 and who died about 1914. Mellie would have been approximately 35 at the time of Rachel’s birth, which might fit the time frame of this picture.

As can be seen by the 1920 Monroe County, Mississippi census below, two more children were born to the family between 1910 and 1920, Rex and Leroy. They were still in Mississippi in 1910 when Rex was born and they were back in Fayette County when Leroy was born. Hamp’s 1918 World War I draft registration indicated they had moved to Marion County, Alabama as did a 1919 Quit Claim deed for their Itawamba County, Mississippi property, which was apparently signed and notarized in Marion County. The Quit Claim deed also provides evidence they bought property following the 1920 census when they were just renting. According to this 1920 census (the columns to the left of center) they purchased their farm with a mortgage (the O and M). All of the children but Leroy were attending school.

1920 WillisMy father told me he left home when he was 15; since he was 15 on this census, he must have left soon afterward. From snippets of information gleaned from listening to my aunts (all daughters-in law), the family must have moved to McClain County, Oklahoma about 1925 and lived someplace between Noble and Purcell. My father, although he considered himself to have been on his own, apparently wished to be near his family and  so moved to Oklahoma; he didn’t graduate from high school but, according to Aunt Ruby, he did attend a business college in Oklahoma City.

Sometime before the 1930 census, Hamp, Mellie and Ruth, Rex and Leroy all moved to Hockley County, Texas in the small community of Smyer. Franklin was already married, as were Johnnie and Ernest and they all remained in Oklahoma. The R in the first small column indicates Hamp was renting his farm. Ruth, Rex and Leroy all met their spouses while living in Smyer. My father, who was enumerated once again with his parents, must have been visiting or passing through after leaving his job with the Merchant Marines.1030 WillisI have mentioned in a previous blog that Hamp and Mellie liked to go to ‘singings;’ in that blog I posted a photo of them on their way to a day of shaped note or Sacred Harp singing as well as explaining what is meant by Sacred Harp singing.

A 1936 Oklahoma City city directory listed Hamp and Mellie as living in Oklahoma City although they didn’t live there long; Franklin and his wife and children as well as daddy were all living at the same address. Hamp and Mellie soon moved to Noble in Cleveland County, Oklahoma. My daughter, Kay, who has done several through-the-years photo compilations of her grandparents and great-grandparents did one of Mellie, which she used in a blog about Mellie. The first photo on the left is a crop of the group photo above and the last was taken a few months before her death in 1938 – though not visible in this crop, she was on her bed with her granddaughter, Jane, who was an infant.mellie-thru-the-yearsThough in photos she generally exhibits an aura of sadness, I know my daddy loved her deeply and that he was loved by her in return; my Aunt Ruth indicated daddy and Mellie Jane had a very special bond. In spite of that bond, I don’t remember him ever speaking of her. The only picture I had ever seen of her prior to these was, as I said, in her casket. 1938-07 MellieShe died at 58 of rectal cancer and was buried at Noble IOOF Cemetery with Zed buried next to her four years later. My father, Franklin, Johnnie and Ernest and their wives are buried there as well.Mellie Jane Welch tombstone

Because I never knew her, I would love to hear stories about her life and personality from any one who knew her. I have a few cousins who were older than I was and had a chance to spend time with her and to experience a grandmother’s love from her. There may be photos available that express more of her life, character and interests than those I have seen. Sharing what we know about our ancestors can be a real treat to those who do not yet know. Please feel free to add any stories, comments or photos to add more detail to her life.

_________________

This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

Can Read, Can’t Write?

Everything I’ve ever known about education – curriculum – is that children begin to learn to read and write simultaneously from their very first days in elementary or grammar school. In transcribing information about my ancestors into my genealogy database, I’ve noted and wondered about those who recorded they could read but not write.

Beginning in 1850 and running through the 1880 census, one of the question sections was whether the person enumerated could read and/or write as well as if they had attended school within the past year.  Again, because of the current educational requirements, I would have expected every person between certain ages to have been checked for attending school and being able to read and write. However, that is not the case at all.

For example, in the 1870 census below, my great-great-grandmother, Sarah Farquhar Welch Jackson is shown by a slash mark (in the far right column) that she cannot write. The column just to the left of the slash mark indicates she could read. Her second husband, James Jackson, can both read and write. Her four children from her first marriage are all checked as having attended school within the year; Jane (18) and James (16) can both read and while Isabel (14) can read but not write and my great-grandfather Thomas (12) appears to have slashes indicating he can neither read nor write (later censuses indicated he could both read and write as was the case with the remaining children). educationParticularly intriguing to me is that sometimes even within the same family not all children had attended school within the past year. Sometimes it might be the youngest, say an eight-year-old, who hadn’t attended school within the year but those up to perhaps 18 had attended. With the current education system having had kindergartens for more than my lifetime and a requirement to begin school by age five or six, depending on where one’s birth date falls, I always wonder what family story might explain educational disparity within one family.

The 1940 census, which became available a little over a year ago, identifies the highest education level achieved for everyone within the household. This also sheds light on one’s family heritage. For example, I’ve known most of my life that my mother was orphaned before she turned eight and was sent to her father’s extended family in Carroll County, Virginia, where she did not attend school from 1922 until 1929, although due to her having attended school in Oilton, Oklahoma prior to that move, she was already able to read and write.

In reviewing my direct and indirect family lines by way of the 1940 census, I could see that the majority of the people in that Virginia community had between zero years of education and, perhaps, four to six, with an occasional exception.

Seeing these education levels sheds light on a major theme my grandfather, Jacob Lineberry who was from Carroll County, wrote in letters written around the turn of the 20th century to his brother still living in Virginia; for example, “… [I] hope people they will go to school and try and get an education. I find a man without education is like a horse without harness.” And again when he asked about his youngest brother, “Does Alex go to school I surely wish Papa would send him to school and let him get an education. It is a poor thing to start a boy out now without an education he will be doomed for hard work all his life And the hardest of the work.” In a later letter he said, ” I hope the little Brothers and Sisters will get a good education I think is worth more than a Father can give to a child. if Papa had given me a good education I would thank him for a thousand times but we was raised up like kins that is not sent to school. I hope he will try and send the other children to school if he will spend any money on them that is the only way and Leander try and send your children to school. I have tried enough of the world to know what a man needs.”

My mother apparently caught enough of her father’s attitude toward education that when she returned to Oklahoma, after a 7-year lapse in schooling while in Virginia, she began school in the third grade at age 15. As her teachers saw she was grasping concepts, they advanced her through the grades and within a year she was in the sixth grade. She continued with school until the tenth grade when lack of money to buy books and materials forced her to drop out.

Today, as I was reading some transcriptions of full newspapers from Lamar County, Alabama, which is a community in which I have had indirect family living, I noted the following article from the November 26, 1880 issue of The Vernon Clipper[1], which may shed some light on how it might happen that someone could read but not write.education

The first thing to notice is that the ad specifies the school is for both male and female students. From today’s perspective, we would never think about making sure to specify that girls were to be included in this educational opportunity. Second is that the school is not scheduled to open until November. With our schools opening in late August or perhaps the first days of September, it seems particularly odd to begin a school year in November. I would suppose the demands of crops and farm life established the optimal time for education.

Although this school’s divisions into Primary, Intermediate, Grammar and High School would not translate into anything comparable to grades within our education system, I would suspect Primary might be grades 1 and 2 and possibly 3; Intermediate might be grades 3, 4 and 5, with Grammar being what we might refer to as Middle School. The first educational thing I noted was that writing was not taught at all in the Primary grades; it was not begun until the Intermediate grades.

If Intermediate grades didn’t begin until, say, the fourth grade, that might explain why Isabel could read but not write at the age of 14 and perhaps why, if Sarah had only gone to school for the first two or three grades, that as an adult she might read but not write. It doesn’t, however, explain why Thomas might not have been able to either read or write at the age of 12, although there is some sort of mark on the census for him that makes it difficult to interpret what may be present in those boxes.

Additionally, note there is a fee for education versus the publicly funded education that has been available for everyone throughout my lifetime. Many families enumerated in these early censuses had as many as twelve or thirteen children and income was very limited. My great-grandfather J.F. Willis was a part-time minister. We found the minutes from one of his churches listing his salary for four separate years [it was unclear if these were annual salaries or monthly salaries, although most church budgets were annualized]:

salaries

The fee scale for the school was monthly and graduated based on education level. With J.F.’s income for the time period in mind and the fact he had seven children, his possible fees for one school year might have been 2 Primary students [$1.50 x 8 months each student] $24.00; 2 Intermediate students [$2.00 x 8 months each student] $32.00; 2 Grammar students [$2.50 x 8 months each student] $40.00; and one High School student [$3.00 for 8 months] $24.00. The annual cost for educating his children would have been $120.00 a year.

From this review, I now know children didn’t necessarily begin school at five or six and they didn’t learn to write at the same time they learned to read, all of which provides some insight into the education levels within my historical family.

 

[1] http://www.newspaperabstracts.com/link.php?action=detail&id=17809